September 16, 2003
Avoid a stay at Hotel 'Whoopi'
DIRECTOR OUTGORES COIF
By Todd Weiser
Daily Arts Editor
Every young filmmaker has a
story. A story of lucky chances and
years of irritating production execu-
tives and any family friend with any-
thing resembling money.
Thirty-one-year-old Eli Roth's
story includes a stint as Howard
Stern's human wake-up call on the
set of "Private Parts" and six years
spent doing research for a David
Lynch Broadway musical that has
still yet to be produced. For Roth,
this pair of lowly, connections-mak-
ing jobs were the jumpstart for his
budding directing career. Roth spent
those long Stern-snoring nights writ-
ing the screenplay for his recently
released "Cabin Fever," a gore-to-
the-extreme modern homage to clas-
sic '70s horror cinema. And, in
Lynch, the legend of bizarre cinema,
Roth found his guardian angel.
"(Lynch) was never officially my
mentor," Roth corrects over the
phone last week, "but I learned
more about directing and filmmak-
ing and writing from that guy than
any other filmmaker."
Lynch is also the man responsible
for "Cabin Fever" ever getting
filmed and released. Roth recalls,
"We were trying to cast the movie
and nobody wanted to be in the film.
Agents wouldn't even read it; they
were like, 'This is disgusting I won't
send this to my clients."'
Then, as a favor, Lynch put his
name on as executive producer and
the companies - that before had
furiously said no - engaged in a
bidding war. "It changed the per-
ception of the thing. As soon as
you say horror, people think
straight-to-video. When you say
David Lynch, they think art house,
you know 'Mulholland Drive,'
quirky. All of a sudden the same
script that people had trashed was
so Lynchian. It's such bullshit; they
just saw his name."
An alumni of New York Univer-
sity's notorious film school, where
he won a Student Academy Award
in 1995 for his "Ronald McDonald
goes on a killing spree" short film
"Restaurant Dogs," Roth is very
vocal of his hatred for the Holly-
wood system. Yet, Roth can now
call himself friends with the
biggest names in filmmaking
today. Peter Jackson stopped pro-
duction on "The Lord of the Rings:
Return of the King" just so the
whole cast and crew could attend a
screening of "Cabin Fever." And
after the film played at the Los
Angeles Film Festival, Quentin
Tarantino invited Roth over to dis-
pense career advice and watch
some joint B-movie favorites. Roth
still cannot believe that his heroes
now consider him part of their
club, "Tarantino owns cool and
we're all just renting it from him."
One day, Roth hopes to equal the
success of his newfound friends,
but for now he's keeping his goals
simple, "I'm interested in telling
cool, fucked-up stories that push
the envelope." A long-time lover of
horror films, "Cabin Fever" is
designed to pay tribute to the clas-
sics of his youth and once again
shock today's viewers with a little
bit of un-PC extremism.
Roth grows vilely enthusiastic
when talking about today's scare
flicks, "I think that every horror
movie today is a fucking pussy-ass,
bullshit, PG-13, neutered-down
piece of shit. There are very few
exceptions, and it's all the Japanese."
At least he likes the Japanese.
By Niamh Sievin
Daily Staff Writer
Poor Whoopi Goldberg, she tries so hard. When "Sister
Act" failed to legitimize her acting career, she strived to
showcase her comedic talent with blockbuster flicks like
"Rat Race" and "Monkeybone." Although these did not
bring her the credit she deserved, she sought to win our
hearts with her special brand of witti-
cisms on everyone's favorite game
show, "Hollywood Squares." Whoopi
Alas, even that did not bring her ade- Tuesdays at
quate recognition. Now, Whoopi has her 8 p.m.
chance to shine and, unfortunately, plum- NBC
met further to her comic death in NBC's
latest attempt for a hit sitcom, "Whoopi."
In her new conquest, Whoopi plays a former Grammy-win-
ning hotel owner, Mavis Rae, in post-September 11 New
York. This concept is very important considering the majority
of the jokes revolve around America's supposed tension with
Arabic people and the resulting national security measures.
For example, this week's episode focuses on the Persian
handyman's (Omid Djalili) obsession with the color-coded
terror alert system and the imminent threat of SARS.
But, let's not neglect the other facets of the show. Mavis'
stuffy brother, Courtney (Wren T. Brown), is forced to live in
the hotel after losing his prestigious job with Enron. He then
introduces his girlfriend, Rita (Elizabeth Regen), a white
woman who is, as NBC puts it, "culturally confused." The
contrast of the two characters and their personalities irks
Mavis to no end and, of course, hilarity should ensue.
"Whoopi" brings more shame to NBC's favorite slogan,
"Ripped from the headlines." However, its jokes come a day
Courtesy or NBC
How am I supposed to write for a guy who doesn't have a head?
late and a dollar short. "Whoopi" works so relentlessly to add
as many political slams as possible into its plot that it neglects
to include any humor in the so-called comedy.
More often than not, the dialogue sounds random and
forced as if the actors know how incredibly annoying their
cliched characters are. The litany of racially-charged gags is
usually tiresome and tasteless. In fact, the show's rare funny
moments occur when its focus on the Iran/Iraq, black/white
While these sort of jokes may fly for a thirty second come-
dy routine, they don't quite provide an engaging basis for a
thirty minute show. Sorry Whoopi. Better luck next time.
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